Posts Tagged ‘Young’

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 36 Preview

23/04/2010

An interesting week last week with Aston Villa and Hull providing opportunity for double gains. Unless you were the gambling type, I imagine most bets were hedged on the key Aston Villa players. While the returns weren’t huge, they weren’t bad either and will probably have justified any points spent in transfers.

It was a slightly above average week for me, not helped by going for Ashley Young as captain. Just 12 points from him as he got just a solitary bonus point. The league lead is 39 with three weeks left, and Sportboy P (remember him?!) now takes up the chase.

.

Gameweek 35 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

James Milner Top Gun Aston Villa

Maverick approves of Milner's second top gun.

matt taylor bolton

Goose approves of Taylor's best performance this season.

Two midfielders got 15  points this week; James Milner and Matt Taylor. Milner scored once and got six bonus points last week while Taylor got into double figures for the first time this season through two goals and three bonus. He has been a little underwhelming in 2009/10 but still has eight goals and three assists.

Elsewhere Charles N’Zogbia got himself 13 points against Arsenal while six players scored eleven. Of those the most interesting was Gareth Bale. After not scoring for over two years, he now has two goals in two weeks.

.

Three Captain Picks:

1. Lampard/Chelsea – A home game against Stoke should be easy pickings for Chelsea. Stoke are still rubbish away from the Britannia and I’m sure Ancelotti will be looking for a response from his team after last week’s debacle against Spurs. Drogba picked up an injury during the defeat and may not be fully fit, thus possibly creating an opportunity for Lampard to run the show.

2. Arteta/Everton – A home game against Fulham is no doubt tough but Roy Hodgson has gone on record as saying that the Europa League is now his priority. Everton are in good form and should probably win against a Fulham side in the middle of a European semi-final against Hamburg. Arteta is back from injury and scored last week.

3. Van Persie/Arsenal or Adebayor/Man City – Hate each other, face each other this weekend at the Emirates and will both be super motivated to be the match-winner. Van Persie has home advantage but may not start. Adebayor will get royally booed with every touch but is match fit and has the benefit of facing Silvestre and Campbell.

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick!

.

Three Suggested Transfers In:

It’s all about form players right now.

1. Bale/Spurs – Obviously he’s been excellent in the past two weeks with 20 points but looking further back he’s been consistently good since regaining his place in mid-January. 85 points since gameweek 22 plus two matches coming up next week.

2. Players with something to play for – Whether that’s from teams who are relegation threatened, fighting for titles or simply those after personal gain like World Cup selection – now is the time to go for motivated players ahead of those whose season has ended.

3. Craddock/Wolves – 25 points in his last four games.

gareth bale spurs

Might be worth a pick.

.

Three To Avoid:

1. Wigan players – Beat Arsenal last week so judging by how their season has gone will probably lose against West Ham this time round.

2. Terry/Chelsea – Out this week through suspension and generally not playing well.

3. Arsenal goalkeepers & defenders – Not that you’d have one!

n'zogbia wigan

Are you taking the mick?!

.

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 35 Preview

16/04/2010

Just four weeks left and 44 points to play with. My lead has been shrinking slowly but hopefully the season can be seen out without too much fuss. It’s starting to get rather tricky given the numerous injuries to the so-called ‘big’ players. Indeed only Drogba and Lampard can say they’re fully fit right now with maybe Rooney to come back soon. The search is on for the less heralded players who can make a difference.

In terms of overall performance, a second shocking week in three (by shocking I mean 1.3millionth for the week) means I’ve dropped out of the top 10,000. I’m still on track for my highest ever finish both points and position wise but it would be nice to end things on a high.

.

Gameweek 34 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

Graham Alexander Burnley

Maverick approves of vendettas. Reminds him of the one he had with Iceman.

Graham Alexander seems to have some kind of personal vendetta against Hull. After winning the gameweek 11 Top Gun for 21 points against Hull (two goals, clean sheet and 3BP) he decided to repeat the trick last week in the return match. Another two goals (both penalties) coupled with being man of the match saw 17 points coming his way.

There was no clean sheet this time but once again it illustrated the value of having penalty takers in your fantasy squad, even if they do play for a rubbish team. Elsewhere, Adebayor and Tevez continued their newfound high-scoring partnership with 15 and 11 points respectively. Let’s see them do it against Man Utd this weekend though.

.

Three Captain Choices:

1. Young (or maybe Agbonlahor)/Aston Villa – Aston Villa play twice this gameweek; both away games against basement dwellers Portsmouth and Hull. If they have any lingering hopes of finishing fourth then six points is a must. The fact Villa are away in both matches should suit their counter-attacking style and I’m looking at their paciest players as captain options.

While Milner is a fair shout, he’s burnt many a manager in not one but two previous double gameweeks and his recent form hasn’t been great anyway. Young (Ashley not Luke btw!) on the other hand has four assists, a goal and three bonus points in his last five. Meanwhile upfront Agbonlahor tends to score in bunches and he got his first goal in about six weeks on Wednesday.

2. Tevez/Man Utd City – You just know he’s going to do something against his old team.

3. Bullard/HullPhil Brown’s Iain Dowie’s side are the other team playing twice and while the realist in me thinks they’ll lose both, on the the other hand they face a Birmingham side in poor form and with nothing to play for and an Aston Villa side fading when it matters. You might be looking at goal or two if nothing else and the likeliest man to score for Hull is Bullard.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Gets a Captain's tick.

.

Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Van Persie/Arsenal – I mentioned last week you should keep an eye on him and if Wednesday’s ultimately fruitless 25 minute cameo against Spurs is anything to go by then he’s not far from being back amongst the fantasy points. Arsenal face Wigan this weekend before Man City at home next week.

While he may not start this time, I imagine he’ll be getting a minimum of 30 minutes before a super motivated start against his old friend Adebayor next weekend. As good a differential as you’re likely to find at this stage.

2. Johnson/Liverpool – Sneakily scoring quite good points over the last five weeks after returning to full fitness. Liverpool are pretty solid again right now and he’s popped up with a couple of assists too. Still well pricey at £7.6m but maybe get him in and cheap midfielder rather than hoping that the likes of Arteta etc will regain fitness.

3. Gomes/Spurs – 26 points in three games, still under £5m.

Robin van Persie

Might be worth a pick.

.

Three To Avoid:

1. Vermaelen/Arsenal – Another key player at Arsenal bites the dust for the season.

2. Torres/Liverpool – One of the most frustrating players I’ve encountered in fantasy football. So good yet injured so often.

3. Birmingham players – Bottom of the form league.

thomas vermaelen arsenal

Are you taking the mick?!

.

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 31 Preview

19/03/2010

Week 31. 15 matches. Given it’s so late in the season this will be title deciding I would think. Ten teams play twice including four from the top half so you should really be looking at having a minimum of seven double players I’d say. Unless we get a bunch of 1-1 draws, 100 points should be the minimum target.

Last week was pretty good – 85 points and a slight increase of my league lead. This despite having five players who would have been better captain choices than Fat Frank. He’ll be leaving my team for Fabregas again shortly after this double gameweek ends. I was particularly pleased with Bendtner getting another 11 points while spending eight points on transfers just about paid off too.

.

Gameweek 30 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

fernando torres liverpool

Maverick wants to know where Torres got those highlights...

After an injury truncated season, Fernando Torres reminded us of what he can do with 19 points against Portsmouth. Two goals, two assists and three bonus gave him his highest score of the season, moving him into the top seven strikers despite having played just 1471 minutes.

Funnily enough his price has actually gone down this week as people were still reacting to one point against Wigan plus the fact he faces Man Utd this week. Judging by past form against Vidic that no bad thing. Elsewhere Malouda got 16, Milner and Aquilani 12 while it was a striker’s week with Rooney, Drogba, Bendtner, Berbatov and Pavlyuchenko all in double figures.

.

Three Captain Picks:

1. Chelsea attackers – First choice for a captain this week should be Chelsea attacking players. While they have two away game which are trickier than they look, I’d still be surprised if they didn’t come away with six points from Blackburn and Portsmouth. Lampard is an option as always, while Malouda is possibly their best player right now. You can’t really look further than Drogba though, and he should feast on those two defences. I wouldn’t bother with Chelsea defenders this week, I think it’ll be one clean sheet at best.

2. Aston Villa players – Villa have two home games against Wolves and Sunderland. Again, I’d be surprised if they got less than six points and they perhaps offer more variety than Chelsea. I’d be quite comfortable with picking Dunne as captain while Agbonlahor is usually involved some way when they score. Really though Milner is the most realistic choice when choosing a Villa captain. You can talk about potential differentials like Young and Downing all you want but at the end of the day it will be Milner getting the points.

3. Everton midfielders – Choices from Everton are narrowed to their midfield for me as Saha is currently injured and I don’t trust the Yak. Pienaar has been consistent and Cahill is always good for a goal but now that Arteta is back he’s the man you want.

Didier Drogba Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick.

.

Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Johnson/Man City – How brave are you feeling? Johnson has shone for Man City since joining in January and last week got himself nine points coming of the bench to rescue a draw vs Sunderland. Difficult fixtures against Fulham A and Everton H but he is in form and making an impact. The key question is will he play both matches? I think yes, but you never know with Mancini.

2. Olsson/Blackburn – An interesting week for Blackburn as they have two home games but both of those matches are quite tough (Chelsea and Birmingham). Olsson is one of the cheapest players in the game at just £3.8m and is listed as a defender even though he normally plays left of midfield. I could certainly see him getting a clean sheet against Brum and perhaps a cheeky assist too.

3. O’Hara/Portsmouth – They’ve been docked points, are essentially relegated, and face Hull and Chelsea this week. That said they are ok at home and tend to score if nothing else. O’Hara should get something against Hull (unless new manager syndrome kicks in) and will get two points vs Chelsea too. He’s cheap and gets bonus, what more do you want?

adam johnson man city

Might be worth a pick.

.

Three To Avoid:

1. Hull players – Not even Iain Dowie can save this lot.

2. N’Zogbia/Wigan – His double gameweek produced just one assist and he’s been taken off before the hour twice in the last three weeks.

3. Anelka/Chelsea – No goals or bonus since the end of January.

jimmy bullard hull

Are you taking the mick?!

.

T.

Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 30 Preview

12/03/2010

I kept putting it off because I knew it would happen. But last week I could wait no more and finally got rid of Darren Bent in exchange for Nicklas Bendtner. It’s not that I doubted Bent’s ability to score but there’s only so long you can wait for Sunderland to win a game.

One hat-trick from Mr. Bent later and I wish I somewhat regretted the decision (despite NB’s five points against Burnley). Going into the rest of the season it was a move I wanted to make as Bendtner plays every week when fit and is so very cheap, thus allowing improvement elsewhere.

Getting a combined total of 38 minutes out of Rooney (injured), Drogba (no game) and Fabregas (one assist before injury) meant the weekly score was low at 41 points. I lost 12 points with Pompey’s last-minute consolation vs Birmingham but overall it was a week to get through as best you could.

It’s all in preparation for Wigan and Villa playing twice this week before the mighty gameweek 31 where TEN teams play twice. Leagues will be won or lost right there.

.

Gameweek 29 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

mikel arteta everton

Maverick thinks Arteta is almost as good-looking as he is.

After being a bit of a fantasy god in the first season (06/07) I played (every week he’d assist a Joleon Lescott header) Arteta has had his fair share of injury problems in the three years since. Still a top player but often out for long periods.

This season was no exception but he has recently returned to full fitness and reminded us all of just how good a player he is. 18 points against Hull through two goals, an assist and three bonus points. He does tend to be a bit of a bonus point magnet when he plays and should be a good points scorer for the rest of the season.

Darren Bent pushed him hard this week with a 16 point hat-trick, while cheap strikers that you’re not likely to have followed with Nugent getting 14 and Jerome 13.

.

Three Captain Choices:

1. Milner/Aston Villa – Two games this week, against Stoke and Wigan away. While Villa have been better away than at home, I’m reluctant to suggest a defender for two away matches. Milner has cooled off recently but is now their top points scorer and most likely to produce this week.

2. Drogba or Lampard/Chelsea – A home game against West Ham is a near banker for Chelsea, despite the useless Ross Turnbull (even worse than Hilario) set to play in goal. Lampard scored twice in the defeat to Man City but I still am more inclined to captain Drogba given a choice between the two.

3. Rodallega/Wigan – Games against Bolton and Villa. As always, you never know which Wigan will turn up but the beauty of them having two matches is that they should perform in at least one. N’Zogbia has been a little quiet since his bonus point binge a month ago so I’ll suggest Rodallega who got nine points against Liverpool last week.

James Milner Aston Villa

Gets a Captain's tick.

.

Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Aston Villa players – All about forward planning this week. Ten teams play twice next week so you’ll want to stock in order for a big week 31 score. Best option of all are Aston Villa players who have an unprecedented double double – four games in two gameweeks! I’d say go with attacking players like Milner/Young/Agbonlahor/Downing for this week’s away games and top up with defenders next week for the two home matches.

2. Everton players – A decent game against Birmingham this week followed by Bolton and Man City next week. I’d waver more towards the midfielders give the choice. Arteta will see a lot of pick up this week but justifiably so, while Pienaar offers cheaper but perhaps better value. Jack Rodwell is back in the picture too and before his injury was playing 90 minutes every week for only £4.3m.

3. O’Hara/Portsmouth – Ten bonus points and two assists in his last six games. Yes Portsmouth are rubbish and will be relegated soon but at home they still usually score. They have two home games next week (one against Hull) and O’Hara is only £4.5m leaving you to upgrade elsewhere.

Ashley Young fantasy football

Might be worth a pick.

.

Three To Avoid:

1. Fulham defenders – They had a nice little run of games from which I picked up two sets of four clean sheets from five games but their Europa League exploits look to be catching up with them. Still worth a bench spot but there’s no need for me to have two players any more. Shorey might find he loses his place to a returning Konchesky.

2. Gerrard & Torres/Liverpool – Overpriced and underscoring. Pompey at home is a last chance saloon in terms of fantasy relevance this year.

3. Fabregas/Arsenal – Before you all get in a twist I’m just suggesting getting rid for this week and next before bringing him back in week 32. He definitely won’t face Hull and then has an admittedly good match against West Ham in week 31. In that time however Frank Lampard will play three times. Also, the last time Wenger said an Arsenal player had a small, small calf strain, Eduardo ended up being out for a month. Depends how much money you stand to lose on him I guess..

shorey fulham

Are you taking the mick?!

.

T.

Live Report – Arsenal vs Aston Villa 27/12/09

29/12/2009

I was personally quite apprehensive going into the Christmas fixture against Aston Villa. They were unbeaten at the Emirates and possessed qualities which would no doubt cause Arsenal problems such as good crossing, organisation and pace on the break. With Fabregas doubtful I thought we would struggle a little. In the event my fears proved unfounded.

arsenal aston villa

Nervous excitement and a nice view from the upper tier.

Arsenal lined up in the now usual 4-3-3/4-5-1 with Eduardo Nasri and Arshavin as the front three and Diaby and Denilson in midfield with Song. In defence Armand Traore returned to offer some pace down the left flank. A bright opening saw Eduardo hit a tame shot (a passback really) straight at Brad Friedel when essentially one on one.

Vermaelen and Song were putting in some strong tackles that gained crowd approval while a few set pieces caused danger in the Aston Villa box (though none of the chances were clear-cut). Villa meanwhile looked to Agbonlahor to stretch the Arsenal defence through his pace and Heskey to challenge it with his strength. Almunia looked indecisive, and was constantly lumping it long to Arshavin which was pointless as Richard Dunne would win the header everytime.

Arsenal Aston Villa Fabregas

Two free kicks in two weeks? Not this time, but later.

Half-time saw the teams level at 0-0. An intriguing contest and an entertaining one, but one you felt had only a goal in it which was worrying given Villa’s result against Man Utd a few weeks back. The crowd was fairly subdued I thought and inklings of frustration were beginning to creep in as the misplaced pass count began to increase.

Denilson, though not playing badly, had once or twice failed to find the final pass and it was no surprise to see him come off for Fabregas on the hour. The impact was immediate. The pace of Arsenal’s play increased and balls began to find their way to Arshavin more often (he was often in space yet no one was giving him the ball).

Not long after Fabregas won himself a free kick, dusted himself down and curled a beauty into the top corner with Friedel flailing. The American’s positioning didn’t look set but I don’t think he would have saved it even if it was. With a 1-0 lead, the game opened up and was brought on to expose Villa on the break.

15 minutes later exactly that happened. Traore found Walcott on the right who went surging towards goal. Following him was Fabregas who was busting a gut (and a hamstring) to meet a through ball. Walcott’s pass was perfectly weighted and Cesc simply slotted past Friedel into the back of the net. His celebrations consisted of some stretching which was somewhat worrying, but this was tempered by the fact the game was won.

fabregas denilson arsenal aston villa

Denilson hadn't played badly but Fabregas offered much more attacking threat.

A huge cheer greeted his replacement by Ramsey. Fabregas had been the difference and this was our hardest game for a while so was perhaps worth the risk of his injury. A few minutes later, Diaby capped off a fine performance with a nice solo goal, as he just ran past the dejected Aston Villa midfield and curled it round Friedel from about 20 yards. He has been very good the past few games and you just wonder whether he can finally make his undoubted talent stick.

So a fantastic win coupled with probably our best half of the season. Aston Villa can count themselves slightly unlucky to come away with a 3-0 defeat but ultimately they didn’t have someone who could make the difference like Fabregas. Ashley Young was very quiet while Agbonlahor was marshalled well by Gallas and Vermaelen. Cesc looks like he’ll be out for a couple of weeks but with the next games against Portsmouth and Bolton he should hopefully not be missed too much.

T.

The Six Pointer – The new Fulham, Arsh power & more…

14/12/2009

1. Amazing what effect a good old-fashioned rollicking can have on players. Arsenal were dreadful in the first half against Liverpool yesterday and were lucky to go into the break only 1-0 down. Torres should have buried what was essentially a one on one chance while Gerrard probably paid the price for his recent diving by not being awarded a penalty for a clear foul by Gallas in the box. As it happened Liverpool were gifted the lead after another error by Almunia, who flapped at a routine crossed free kick and palmed into Kuyt’s path to score.

It has been hinted that Wenger told his young charges “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” (something many of us Arsenal fans have thought in recent times) and it had the desired result, in part helped by Liverpool’s terrible second half. First Glen Johnson got his footing all wrong to score an own goal with Carragher slipping and Walcott lurking. Then within ten minutes Andrey Arshavin (who had done little until then) scored a great goal taking one touch to control, one to step past Glen Johnson and one to rifle the ball in the net before Reina even saw it. Another memorable Anfield moment for the little Russian who at that point had five goals from five shots in his two games in Liverpool (he would later ruin it with a shot that didn’t score!).

Andrey Arshavin Arsenal Liverpool Anfield

So tiny yet so much shooting power.

So where does this leave both teams? Arsenal look to be back in the title mix after everyone else around them dropped points and will be just three behind Chelsea if they win their game in hand against Bolton in January. Arshavin up front is working in the sense they have two straight wins but he was much quieter against Liverpool than Stoke. A striker is still needed in January.

Liverpool meanwhile are bereft of ideas, form and confidence. They are still only five points off a Champions League spot but it’s becoming more apparent that something is fundamentally wrong at Anfield.  I’m still unsure why Aquilani isn’t starting league games, especially when the first XI aren’t doing much. Gerrard is playing poorly and petulantly while I feel Torres isn’t at full fitness. I’m not convinced Rafa has lost the dressing room but I do think he has the resigned look of someone who already is just playing out the season. Life under Hicks and Gillett has become ridiculous and to be honest I’ll be surprised to see him at Anfield next year.

rafael-benitez liverpool

Something on your mind Rafa?

.

2. No team with Champions League ambitions loses at home to Stoke and Wolves and doesn’t score in either game. As always with Spurs as soon as expectation rises, performances fall; which is ironic given that they play better against the big sides. Robbie Keane being captain is becoming an issue due to his poor play, as was obvious it would a year ago, while Defoe isn’t as consistent a scorer as Darren Bent – he’s only scored in six games compared to Bent’s nine. With no money to spend in January it will be interesting to see how Harry Redknapp does going forward.

.

3. Any team which beats Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd certainly should have Champions League ambitions. Aston Villa got their first league win at Old Trafford in some 26 years and it was thoroughly deserved. Having been in a Champions League spot for two-thirds of last season before falling away, they looked better placed to stick it out this season.

richard-dunne-aston villa

Solid as a rock.

In Milner, Downing, Young and Agbonlahor they have a quartet of attacking players who can cause problems against any team; Agbonlahor in particular consistently scoring in big matches. At the back Richard Dunne proves every week that Mark Hughes made an error in selling him. A lot depends on whether the core players stay fit but of the pretenders for 4th, Villa look by the far the most impressive at the moment. They may even be aiming higher…

.

4. Are Birmingham this season’s Fulham? The points they’re gaining with the few goals they’re scoring suggests so. Their fifth 1-0 victory this season has got them up to 24 points and eighth place. A far cry from the fools who thought they’d be going down this season.

.

5. Somewhere in Milan a certain J. Mourinho must be laughing at Chelsea’s recent defensive problems. Who would have thought that a team with a least eight players over six-foot including a giant 6’6″ keeper would be so vulnerable on set pieces? Cech has been far below the heights (no pun intended) of 2004-06 and in recent weeks has made a number of errors. The problem with him being so far ahead of Hilario and Ross Turnbull is that you just have to hope he works his way through it. You have to think that Chelsea wouldn’t have conceded three if Essien was playing either. It’s too early to say if he’ll be badly missed, I would say the true test will be once Drogba is out too.

Jose Mourinho Chelsea Inter

They conceded how many goals in one match?!

.

6. Just five points from seven games for Sunderland. Portsmouth at home was about as good a game as you could have hoped for if you wanted to find some form. Maybe Steve Bruce needs a bit more time (read next season) to truly make them a contender for a Europa League spot.

.

T.

Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Draft Teams & General Strategy

03/08/2009

After previews on goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers it’s time for some more general strategy and team selection thoughts.

.

Draft teams

I’ve written a lot over the past week about players to possibly choose but not actually showed you any potential teams. We’ll go through a few examples where the focus is on a particular area before going for something with a little more balance.

.

Spending it on defenders:

Solid defence

Solid defence

The team has a focus on a strong defence where all five plus the keeper play each week. In this example I’ve used Liverpool and Man Utd. Hit on both teams getting clean sheets and you have a base of 36 points before any attacking players have even played. It’s a little risky as one goal conceded screws up your week competely. Also you’ll lack money for the superstar attacking players but you can still afford people like Robinho and Van Persie as well as some good top half players. If you consider that each week there’s a high chance either United or Liverpool or both will be keeping clean sheets it’s certainly an interesting tactic.

.

Blowing it on midfield:

Assists, assists, assists. A few goals too.

Assists, assists, assists. A few goals too.

This option is to spend all your money on the best midfielders possible and then hope that you pick the right cheap players who prove to be the bargains of the season. In my opinion Gerrard, Lampard and Arshavin are all guaranteed locks for 200+ points barring injury. You still have enough money for a relatively solid defence which takes in the cheaper starting options. Up front it’s lacking a bit though Bendtner and Beattie will both get around 120 points I’d say. You could always swap one of the big three in midfield for someone slightly cheaper and buy a better striker. It’s worth investing in midfield though just as goals are worth five points and you have several guys in the league who are capable of double figures.

.

Striking prowess:

Scoring goals for fun.

Scoring goals for fun.

The riskiest option of all I would say is to put your money in strikers, just as very few are consistent scorers one season to the next. Even the top guys we’ve chosen here are risky as strikers will often do nothing in a game if they don’t score. They are not the bonus point hoggers that midfieders are. Someone like Torres who usually scores when he plays is a risk just due to his fitness record whilst at Liverpool.

However, assuming you are unconcerned by seasons past and only with what the this coming season holds then this could all be a worthwhile gamble. Having him, Rooney (who should be United’s top point scorer this year) and last year’s top striker Anelka gives you a formidable front line. As the best strikers are cheaper than the best midfielders, you can still afford a decent team with the rest of the money you have. People like Modric and Young are at the hub of their team’s creative play so are good value to get around 150-160 points if not more. The defence is not terrible and again you can play around with the exact players to upgrade other ones.

We’ll look at a mixed team later in the post.

.

General Strategy – Captains

My biggest error last season was not having a range of reliable captain choices. By this I mean I only had Ronaldo in my team but not Gerrard or Lampard meaning I would usually have to pick him as captain. Now of course towards the end of the season there’d be too many gameweeks where Ronaldo did not much at all so I would get ten points from my captain while people with Gerrard would be getting twenty. I was however stuck in picking him (or Arshavin to be fair) as it was too late to change things around.

Moral of the story is: the big players will always come through so get them in your team as early as possible. A big change this season is the backup captain who will come in if your first choice doesn’t play. I would strongly suggest leaving the setting on value rather than form 90% of the time. Any random cheap player can have a few good weeks but then suddenly stop scoring well. You don’t want to have him coming in as captain the week that happens.

Lampard double

Lampard double

.

Double Gameweeks

These are perhaps the biggest opportunity for making up lost ground, and come more into play in the second half of the season when a lot more games get rescheduled. That said I am fairly certain that the six teams who miss gameweek two will be playing those fixtures at some point before Christmas.

Anyway by double gameweek I mean a team who plays twice in one week, thus giving you the chance to pick a captain who plays twice. If someone like a Gerrard or Lampard has two easy home games you could be looking at the region of 50 points from just one player. Chuck in a defender or two from the same team and you’ll have a three figure score for the week.

You should try and be aware of when these games get played but at the same time you shouldn’t make too much effort to get players playing twice. Of course if it’s a strong team then you should try and have as many players of theirs as possible. If it’s someone like Hull playing twice then you should probably just take the hit rather than be stuck with the players for the weeks that follow.

.

Wildcards

I was previously of the view that wildcards should be kept hold of until at least the January transfer window but I think I’ve changed my mind. While saving it till then can definitely provide a bump in performance, if you’ve picked a bad squad to begin with it’s best to change things as soon as possible before the gap to your rivals gets too big. Bear in mind that the more successful a player the higher his value will go up, so there’s no point waiting as it will only make it harder to get all the star performers into one side.

You only get one of these.

You only get one of these.

.

Transfers

One of the biggest changes this year is the rollover free transfer. Every week you get one free transfer and then any more will cost you four points each. This season though, if you don’t use the free transfer it rolls over to the next week, allowing you to change two players for free. It only rolls over once so you’d never get more than two in any given week but it’s definitely something to try and ensure you have when double gameweeks are looming. Being able to change three players for the cost of just four points could allow you to significantly revamp your team whilst not having to use the wildcard.

.

Balance & Substitutes

Fantasy football may let you pick a squad of 15 but it’s ultimately all about the first choice XI. All you want from your subs is that they are guaranteed starters for their clubs, so if they were to be used you’d be getting the minimum two points. As I mentioned in the positional previews, four weeks out of five your subs won’t come into play at all as your first team will all be playing. It’s only when Rio hurts his back in the warm-up or Rooney is serving a one match ban for five bookings that you will call upon those options. With this in mind you should spend as little as possible on the four subs – £4m for GK & DF, £4.5m for MF and £5-5.5m for the striker (no good £4.5m options).

This does depend on what formation you plan to play of course, but whatever position your subs end up taking, just make sure they’re cheap. There are loads of players from the promoted teams and the strugglers from last season who would fit into this bracket. They will play 30 games minimum (60 points) as well as contribute enough to get 30-40 points from saves/clean sheets/assists/goals or bonus. The money you save will upgrade the first choice XI enough to more than compensate for this.

An example of a balanced side.

An example of a balanced side.

Looking at the team above you have three studs in Arshavin, Gerrard and Fat Frank. One top quality striker in Berbatov who despite his critics was fifth best striker last year. The defence has three top four representatives. They’re not the obvious picks but Song will play nearly every game, O’Shea is a placeholder for whoever ends up right back at Utd while Insua has a fair chance of playing some games early on.

Of the other starters Beattie will do well again as Stoke are geared to his strengths, Ferdinand/Sunderland will concede less than many other teams this year while what little creativity Birmingham have will go through Seb Larsson. As mentioned before, the subs are cheap and will play and can always be changed.

.

It’s Only A Game

As the Football Guy mentioned in one of his previews the other day, it’s a only a game. Utimately this is meant to be a bit of fun between mates and a way of making games like Bolton vs Hull mean a little more interesting! Feel free to ignore some or all of what I’ve written, and I welcome anything you agree/disagree with in the comments.

.

T.

Fantasy Premier League Preview 09/10 – Midfielders

30/07/2009

It’s time to preview the midfielders in Fantasy Premier League. This will basically be the area where your leagues are won and lost, as most of the big hitters are here and your captain choices will often come from this group. The big change this season of course is the absence of a certain Portuguese winger. No, not Boa Morte or Nani (though the former is injured till Christmas) but Cristiano Ronaldo who has been the backbone of the majority of teams over the last three seasons. His goalscoring feats were a bit ridiculous, not least in 2007/08 when you had the fear every week if you were foolish enough not to pick him as captain. He’d usually make you pay with twelve to sixteen points which were then doubled as captain. Good times.

Someone else will have to be captain now.

Someone else will have to be captain now.

.

On a side note the Football Guy and I were debating recently about whether Thierry Henry would have got more points fantasy wise when at his peak for Arsenal. I think we reached the conclusion that C-Ron would have beaten him just due to his goals being worth more as a midfielder. Ronaldo got 283 points in 07/08 if I recall – 31 goals, a bunch of assists and somewhere in the region of 40 bonus. In his best overall season in 2002/03 (he scored more the following year but assisted less) Henry scored 24 goals (=96pts), assisted 23 (69pts), played 37 (74pts) and probably would have a bonus figure in the thirties. This would leave him at around 270. Pretty impressive all told but we can only speculate at FPL didn’t exist then. Anyway, I digress somewhat, we’re trying to find the new Ronaldo after all.

A booking for taking his shirt off. That's minus one point.

A booking for taking his shirt off. That's minus one point.

.

Expensive (£9m-£12.5m)

The three most expensive midfielders this season are Gerrard, Lampard (both £12.5m) and Arshavin (£11m). I would advise to get at least two of those three in your team. They’re all dead certs for more than 200 points and will be the main creative outlets at their respective clubs. It looks like Lampard will play in an advanced role behind the front two at Chelsea so I reckon he could push to 15 league goals as well as his usual ten assists. Gerrard is Gerrard, double figures in goals and thirty five bonus points every year. He only played 30 games last season so with a fill campaign could possibly reach around 240 points.

I’m put off Fabregas a little bit after his truncated season last year but at £10.5m he should bounce back nicely. It will be interesting to see how the assists are shared between him and Arshavin but I expect Cesc to still get around 180 points if not more. If nothing else, the man is a bonus point machine. Arsenal’s start is quite tough so perhaps look elsewhere initially and bring one of those two in after a few weeks.

A big season coming up.

A big season coming up.

.

I do wonder if Dirk Kuyt can repeat his career year of 08/09 this time round. Only Carragher played more outfield minutes for Liverpool last season and the Dutchman weighed in with twelve goals and lots of clean sheet points in his new classification of midfielder. He will play a big part in Liverpool’s title bid but the signing of Glen Johnson is designed to provide width going forward which may impact on his assist total.

I don’t understand why Joe Cole is at £9m. Yes he’s good when he plays but that’s the problem, he never does. He does seem to bounce back in alternate years so he’s due a good season but he also has competition from Zhirkov and Malouda. Steer clear I’d say. Stephen Ireland at £9m is another debatable choice. Man City’s best player last season with nine goals, ten assists and 16 bonus, he faces a tougher time this season with all the players they have bought. By that I mean that whilst City will be better, they won’t be relying on him as much hence the goals and assists are likely to be more spread out with Barry, Tevez and Adebayor all after a share of the spoils.

If only they gave points for being injured...

If only they gave points for being injured...

.

Mid-range (£6m-£8.5m)

One or two of these guys to supplement the big hitters, and you’re looking at a very nice midfield. The choice is very wide here with lots of players who have the potential to hit 180+ is they have a good year. First and foremost I’d be looking at Ashley Young at £8.5m. It’s weird to think I was disappointed with his 153 points last year but expectations were high after a stellar 07/08. He is the hub of all creativity at Villa and arguably the best crosser in the Premier League. I expect closer to the 17 assists he two seasons ago and perhaps finally double figures in goals too. Next up you’ve got the two Everton guys, Cahill and Arteta. You have a choice here between goals or assists but both will score well and represent good value at £8.5m.

The main man at Villa.

The main man at Villa.

.

I don’t expect too much from Valencia (£8.5m) but then none of United’s midfielders look particularly appealing this season. There’s a bunch of players at £7.5-8m whose price is based on reputation and they aren’t worth getting. In this I include Ballack, Deco (both past it), Kalou, Walcott, Wright Phillips, Elano (not consistent/guaranteed starters), Nasri and Downing (both injured). Barry will be good at Man City and may well take the occasional penalty while I think Modric may have a big season at Spurs. Certainly a better one than Lennon.

Essien is the only defensive midfielder worth having in my opinion due to his bonus point skills but it takes a rich man to spend £7.5m on him. Of the £7m men I think Rosicky could be an interesting gamble if he stays fit (big if) while Fellaini seemed to cut the yellows towards the end of the season whilst scoring an excellent eight goals. Matt Taylor at Bolton loves to score and will assist plenty too and I shall be keeping an eye on Kranjcar as he’s now the one good player at Pompey. Bentley, Riera, Babel, Nani? Meh. Milner is becoming a big player for Villa and is a good secondary option to Young while Petrov will create, but sadly just won’t play much in the new look City side.

Faces a lone battle to keep Hull up.

Faces a lone battle to keep Hull up.

.

At £6.5m I’d go for Murphy or Dempsey, both consistent Fulham midfielders who will assist and score respectively. Gamst Pederson has been getting worse each year but I don’t see where else Blackburn’s creativity will come from. Oh wait Fat Sam is in charge so it doesn’t apply. Geovanni is the only player of interest to me at £6m. Oh and maybe Richardson or Malbranque at Sunderland.

.

Cheap (£4.5m-£5.5m)

This is an area where you forget about players you know and start working out who got most assists for the likes of Wolves and Burnley last year. Stoke midfielders are still pretty cheap. Delap and his power throw can still be had for £5.5m. A few West Ham players at that price too but I’ll be honest and say I wouldn’t know who to pick. N’Zogbia should get forward for Wigan while Kightly was Wolves’ provider last year in the Championship and could make the step up. Belhadj is now a midfielder at £5m – he did well for Pompey last season.

Likes assists. Apparently.

Likes assists. Apparently.

.

Seb Larsson was a bit of a legend two seasons ago and is still just as cheap at £5m. Moving down to £4.5m you want to find someone who plays every week first and foremost. McSheffrey, Gudjonsson, Muamba, Etuhu and McCann aren’t going to get you much each week, but as they’re relevant only a few times a season it shouldn’t matter.

.

T.

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 27

27/02/2009

I find myself in a bit of a pickle this week as I only have nine players available at the moment, two of which are goalkeepers. With Man Utd being in the Carling Cup final, Paintsil and Bosingwa being suspended, and Portsmouth not playing I’ll need to make a couple of changes just to get a full team out. Next week Fulham, Blackburn, Sunderland and Spurs all play twice so that is something to consider too. 

Last week saw James Beattie as top point scorer with 13. I am willing to bet that will be the first and last time this will ever happen. He has done well though since joining Stoke with four goals in four games. Elesewhere it was a case of Fulham players trying to outdo each other with Schwarzer (12) just beating Johnson (11) who just beat Zamora (10). All got into double figures though. 

On to this week’s picks…

 

Three alternatives to Ronaldo as Captain (makes sense, he’s not playing)

1. Lampard/Chelsea – I have to say no one stands out this week, Chelsea and Arsenal both face good defensive teams despite being at home so goals may be at a premium. I don’t have Lampard in my team but if I did he would be my likely choice. I could see Wigan holding them to a draw though.

2. Young/Aston Villa – Martin O’Neill has laid his cards on the table and decided that he would rather qualify for the Champions League instead of win the UEFA Cup. I know the feeling. His first team will be fully rested having not played against CSKA. Stoke are a big physical team so you could well see Carew and Heskey play together. All this leads to plenty of crosses from Ashley Young. Hopefully one of these crosses will end up as an assist.

3. Van Persie or Bendtner (if you’re feeling very reckless)/Arsenal – Fulham are a tough side to break down but they have only scored three away goals this season. Arsenal will no doubt be camped in their half from the first minute onwards and in the absence of Eduardo, Adebayor and Walcott, the aforementioned RVP and NB will probably continue up front. I’m hoping clutching that given enough chances Bendtner might score. Please. Thank you.

Yay

Yay

 

Three suggested transfers in:

1. Santa Cruz or Roberts/Blackburn – A decent game this week against Hull and then two next week against Everton and Fulham. Either is worth a shout for a couple of weeks even though Blackburn are struggling.

2. Arshavin/Arsenal – Seeing as he can’t play in the Champions League, Wenger will likely use him in every remaining league game. He’s pricey, and listed as a striker, but he showed enough against Sunderland to suggest that he will be a good source of points for the rest of the season.

3. Baines/Everton – The Toffees are pretty solid right now and stand to take a more defensive approach now that Arteta is out. He’s finally established himself in the back four and at £4.6M is a million cheaper than any other Everton defender who plays regularly. Tony Hibbert doesn’t count, he can barely be classed as a footballer let alone defender. 

May(be)

May(be)

 

Three to avoid:

1. Arteta/Everton – Out for the season. He’s at an odd price range where there isn’t an obvious replacement. Maybe SWP or Cahill I guess. If I had him I’d go cheaper and spend the money elsewhere.

2. Spurs players – If last season is anything to go by Tottenham’s season officially ends on Sunday after the Carling Cup final. I avoid their players anyway, but even more so now that they won’t have anything to play for. The fact they may still find themselves in a relegation battle does not make them suddenly appealing either.

3. Liverpool players – Watch Rafa rotate as he begins to prioritise the Champions League.

Nay

Nay

 

T.

Is This Man Footballer of the Year?

17/02/2009
The best this season? Hmm...

The best this season? Hmm...

So, Alan Hansen reckons Ryan Giggs should win Footballer of the Year. For what it’s worth, so does Robbie Savage. I’m not so sure myself. While Giggs had a great game against Derby and has generally played pretty well recently, I don’t think he’s even been the best footballer at Manchester United this season let alone in the country. For me Nemanja Vidic has been a much more integral part to United’s success this year. 

 

The betting overall is as follows:

  • N Vidic 6-4 Fav
  • C Ronaldo, R Giggs 4-1
  • S Gerrard 9-1
  • E Van der Sar 12-1
  • A Young 18-1
I guess Ronaldo is top United goalscorer and has won it two years running so has to be considered. Gerrard and Young have led Liverpool and Aston Villa to a title challenge and probable Champions League qualification respectively. Van der Sar has also been ever present in the defensive record.

 

Giggs has played appeared in 18 of United’s 24 league games this season but of those only half were starts. He has a goal and five assists and has been man of the match in maybe three or four games depending on who you ask. His form since Christmas has been especially noted but let’s be honest, it has been all about United’s defensive record this year. Thirteen straight clean sheets and counting (a third of the season) and Vidic (along with VDS) has been the only defensive ever present in that run. He has kept United solid and organised at the back regardless of who has come that particular week (Evans, Rio, O’Shea etc). The giant Serb has scored four times already this year, including the winner against Sunderland has only picked up two bookings since his one match ban for the red card against Liverpool. The Man Utd net has been breached just ten times so far, half of those coming in two games in early November. 

This guy should get it instead.

This guy should get it instead.

Giggs has been very good this year and has found a way to still be influential despite no longer having the pace that made him so feared. I feel however that all this talk of him winning awards seems partly to be as some sort of nostalgic overall recognition for his 19 year career. He’s never won player of the season in all that time (he does have a couple of young PFA’s though) but I’m sure that when he looks back on his career he’ll be quite happy with his haul of ten league titles, two Champions Leagues and nine other cups of various description. Given how well placed United are this season I reckon he’d happily be overlooked once again for the individual prizes if meant adding another trophy or three come May.

 

T.


%d bloggers like this: